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Who can be held responsible following a drunk driving accident?

Illinois residents who have been injured or lost loved ones because of the actions of drunk drivers may feel a bit lost and unsure of what legal options are open to them in order to seek compensation for their losses. Following a drunk driving accident, the driver believed responsible may be held accountable both criminally and civilly. According the state laws, certain establishments could also be ordered to pay compensation to victims or their surviving family members.

Dram shop laws are active is most states, Illinois being one of them. The purpose behind the Dram Shop Act is to deter the negligent serving of alcohol. This means that alcohol cannot be sold to a person who is already clearly intoxicated. If a person is over-served, the retailer is responsible for preventing him or her from driving.

In order to seek compensation from a bar or other alcohol retailer, one will need to file a dram shop claim in civil court. These claims can be quite hard to prove. In order for such a claim to be successful, it will be necessary to establish:

  • The alcohol sale to the driver deemed responsible for the collision
  • Correlation between the sale and the driver's intoxication
  • Proof of injury or death

If one is able to prove all of these things, the establishment in question may be ordered to pay compensation to the victim or -- in the event of fatality -- his or her surviving family members. The state of Illinois does put a cap on the compensation amount, but it may be another source of liability in specified circumstances. An experienced attorney can provide more information about this and other claims that may be filed following a drunk driving accident and can assist in filing and litigating civil actions, if appropriate.

Source: FindLaw, "Dram Shop Laws", Accessed on May 2, 2017

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